Tag Archives: teens

we have found nothing to suggest that groups of young people can be discriminated against

While Article 14 of the ECHR prevents discrimination against individuals and groups on various grounds, the grounds do not specifically include discrimination on the grounds of age.  It is possible for the courts to find discrimination on grounds other than those specifically cited; we have performed preliminary searches but have found nothing to suggest that groups of young people have the characteristics of a group that can be discriminated against.

Do you remember hearing about the Mosquito ring tone a few years ago?  The high-pitched cell phone tone that teens use to receive text messages in class that almost everyone under 20 can hear… but almost no one over 30 can?  (For the record, at 22, I can still hear it, at least using the MP3 sample version I found online.)  I’m not a huge fan of the ring tone, but I’m not passionately against it either.  To me, it just sounds like kids being kids.  Trying to find a way to get done what they think they need to do, even when it’s against the rules.

What I never knew, though, were the origins of the ring tone.  Apparently, before teens thought to use it on their phones, it was being used around stores in the U.K., continental Europe, and the U.S. to repel teenagers.  Yes, repel them.  The system is called Mosquito Teenage Control Products.  Because they are nothing but troublemakers, apparently.  (It has been interesting to see some articles talk about, “Oh, maybe this will help fight gangs!” which I like… but…  not enough to gain my support of the device right now.)

It makes me frustrated enough that they would do this, but when I think about the fact that such devices also repel university students–even graduate students like me…  it makes me quite angry.  While clearly, an annoying noise can be tolerated if one really wants to shop somewhere, it’s the fact that someone doesn’t want me around and is bold enough to say it that upsets me the most.  I was always irked when I see buffet lines that require parents to accompany those 10 and under–when I was 10 I thought that was incredibly insulting, as if I, a 5th grader, really thought it was ok to stick my hands in the mac n cheese before putting it on my plate.  Ok, ok, but some kids do have trouble not touching food.  It’s a public health concern, I guess.  Sure, whatever.  But for someone to be trying to keep you from their establishment completely?  With any other demographic group, there would be an outcry.  It wouldn’t be legal.

Actually, some have questioned the device.  They’ve wondered if either by causing hearing loss or discriminating against teens its use could be a human rights violation.  Well, studies show that it doesn’t damage hearing, and at least for now, it seems to be legal.  One particular firm has outlined why the device should be able to be used, and it’s interesting that besides a few more legitimate arguments they actually state what I posted above.  That apparently, it’s not even possible to discriminate based on age.  That even something even more blatant wouldn’t be real discrimination.  Because you can’t discriminate against teens.  You can do whatever you want.  And it’s not discrimination.  Apparently.

I do recognize that youth is a quality that is temporary, which is different from ethnicity or disability or (without serious surgery) sex.  But does that mean you can do whatever you want to young people?  What if there was simply a sign that said “No one under 18” or “No one under 21” or even “No one under 30” outside certain stores.  If one can’t disciminate against the young, are these signs just as legal as Mosquito?

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Laci’s Journey (Pt 1): Hell & Kid Conversions

Laci is a 19-year-old woman in California.  She likes pretty piano music and talking about stuff that matters.  In this four-piece-and-growing series, she talks about her experiences in the Mormon church as a child and adolescent, culminating with her coming out as an atheist to friends and family this past spring.

Take a look:

I appreciate Laci’s thoughtful reflection on her religious experiences, and I thought this was an interesting video because she touches on few things that I think are often seen as problems by kids of evangelical families of origin, as well as Mormon: hell and “making a decision” about faith early in life.

With regards to heaven/hell, I wouldn’t say that at this point most of my evangelical friends–who tend to be more moderate theologically–put a lot of emphasis here, but I don’t think that’s true of evangelical churches as a whole.  Many of them, I believe, still are quite into talking about heaven/hell as one of the big reasons to become a Christian.  I think fundamentalists use this as a scare tactic, while many evangelicals would say they try to emphasize the importance of a relationship with God instead…

But here’s the thing.  I don’t think the rest of us (who aren’t fundamentalists using hell as a scare tactic) have figured out what we really think about hell or how to talk about it.  Especially as some of us have begun to embrace a larger understanding of the gospel that focuses largely on God’s renewing this earth and establishing a kingdom here, we don’t know what hell is anymore (especially since various Greek works are translated as “hell”…  *sigh*), and we do a poor job explaining this aspect of Christianity to ourselves and others.

So from one evangelical to another: let’s figure it out.  Let’s keep asking questions, let’s acknowledge all we don’t know, let’s think carefully.  And while we are not ever going to know everything there is to know about the world, let’s try to come up with a better alternative to silence.  Because if there’s silence, all Laci or anyone else has to go by is what fundies say.  And that doesn’t seem fair to Laci or us either one–it’s not a representation of what many of us think Christianity is about.  I haven’t taken 90% of my seminary courses yet, so maybe I’ll come up with some fabulous answer before you know it, but the fact is, if I, a seminary student who was raised in church and has a lot of experience in the evangelical world and also has read more than one nerdy book relating to Christianity…  if I don’t know what to think about hell, many regular people in pews who aren’t wacko-nerds are at least as clueless as me.  And that’s a problem.  If we don’t give people good theology, there’s a vacuum–and people will absorb somebody else’s theology without even engaging in a dialog with ours.

Secondly, Laci talks a lot about how strongly she was encouraged to make a faith decision as a young child (as well as how excited she was to make one), and it seems she now resents this.  I am not saying we shouldn’t talk about religion with children, but I wonder if we emphasized conversion as a process rather than a moment this would be less of an issue.  I also wonder if we are foolish sometimes to think a kid so young can really know what they’re doing.  In some ways, this is the beauty of infant baptism.  Everyone knows a kid isn’t making a decision then, and that’s ok.  We help them make decisions big and small as they grow up and move toward being able to really decide what they believe.  Addtionally, we often offer classes for teens that allow them to learn about our faith more formally.  It doesn’t always work out, of course (not only do some leave the faith but some remain Christian but of a very nominal sort which is possibly much worse), but it offers a little more autonomy, perhaps.

I know a lot of people feel strongly about “believer’s baptism”–requiring a profession of faith before baptism rather than baptizing babies–and I can respect that.  But as someone that has spent a good deal of time in traditions on both sides, I think we need to figure out ways to better shepherd kids that do make “decisions” at a young age.  In some ways, I almost feel it’s appropriate to downplay those decisions and let them know that, yeah, we understand they’re sixteen now, that they have bigger questions than when they were six, that, in a sense, they do need to decide again at sixteen, and maybe at twenty-six, and maybe at thirty-six and eight-six, too.

I think there are ways to still emphasize conversion as a process even if we like to make a conversion moment with baptism.  And I think that the better we emphasize this faith journey, the more freedom teens will feel to actually ask tough questions.  They need to know that they’re not locked into a simplistic form of Christianity forever, that it’s ok to have doubts and struggles and to wrestle with them honestly.  That’s the only way, I think, for anyone with questions to make an authentic adult decision to remain Christian.

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized